Honda President critical of federal EV strategy

While he said his company is moving aggressively towards producing electric vehicles, the President and CEO of Honda Canada said he is concerned about whether the right conditions will be in place to meet the federal government’s proposed targets.

In an interview with Canadian auto dealer, Jean Marc Leclerc said he wonders whether consumers will have the financial means and confidence in the infrastructure to transition to widespread EV use.

“You can argue that the early adopters and those people with the means and maybe the living conditions is one thing, but when you are talking about the average Canadian moving to EVs, it’s quite another,” said Leclerc. “Is there enough being done on the infrastructure front, for example, quickly enough to make sure we’re not going to be sitting with EVs [on our lots] without any takers? That’s the worst-case scenario.”

It’s a concern that has been voiced by Toyota Canada’s President and CEO Larry Hutchinson in a recent speech, and which Downtown Auto Group President and CEO Shahin Alizadeh also expressed in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. Leclerc wonders how the various levels of government will act to move rapidly on infrastructure and overcoming the cross-jurisdictional issues.

“It’s a federal mandate, but then when you talk about infrastructure you’re talking about provincial, municipal, stakeholders and the whole ecosystem of charging infrastructure,” said Leclerc. “There’s no coordination efforts, and coordination is really key to the speed of implementing that infrastructure. That’s what we’re not seeing and that’s what causes a lot of concerns in the industry as we’re transitioning to an EV era.”

He said Hutchinson was “bang on” in his speech.

“Realistically, it will take more time to transition,” said Leclerc. “Are we really after reducing greenhouse gas emissions or selling EVs? I guess you could argue both.”

On the surface, he said EVs are an “easy sell” to the general population, because it helps reduce fuel emissions. But, Leclerc added, there is no indication or timeline for reaching price parity, which could make it affordable to all consumers.

“With everybody clamouring to supply critical minerals and precious minerals, it’s only putting upward pressure on prices, and the battery represents 40 per cent of the value of the vehicle,” said Leclerc. “If you just do simple math, it’s going to take time for things to settle. We need technology to evolve until we get to that point that everybody’s talking about that will be the key to mass adoption from an affordability perspective.”

He said his concerns are echoed by the majority of Canadian manufacturers, based on conversations he’s had as Chair of the Global Automakers of Canada.

“We want to see a plan, a strategy, to make sure they are in place,” said Leclerc. “We’re building EVs. There’s no turning back once you start making those massive conversions to your business.”

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